Pets and Poisonous Cane Toads

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Image courtesy of www.couriermail.com.au

In the last month it seems that as soon as the sun goes down our yard is taken over by cane toads.  The little bit of recent rain has brought these toads out of hibernation and they are ready to breed during the wet season.

These rather unattractive amphibians are a common cause of poisoning to dogs and less commonly cats.  When toads feel threatened they ooze a milky poison through the glands in the skin.  If a dog or cat is to lick, bite or eat a cane toad the poison can make them quite sick and can have a hallucinogenic effect on them.  Just recently I was reading an article in the Courier Mail that said that some dogs were possibly becoming addicted to the “high” or the effect that the cane toad poison was having on them and were then repeatedly seeking out cane toads.

Symptoms of cane toad poisoning vary dependant on the amount of poison ingested by the animal.  Signs of cane toad poisoning include;
Mild Poisoning
– Excessive salivation, drooling and/or frothing from the mouth
– Bright red & slimy gums
– Rubbing at the mouth
– Vomiting
Severe Poisoning
– Muscle spasms
– Seizures
– Increased or rapid heart rate
– Death

So what should you do if you notice these symptoms or suspect that your pet has cane toad poisoning?  Firstly you should always contact your veterinarian to discuss the symptoms and seek advice.  If the animal is just showing mild symptoms or you see them with a cane toad there are a few first aid measures you can undertake to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe.

Some first aid steps to follow are;
–  You need to thoroughly rinse the animals mouth out to remove the poison.  To do this hold your pets mouth tilted down and first wipe the mouth and tongue out with some paper towel.  Use a hose or tap on a slow trickle and thoroughly wash out the mouth for at least 10 minutes.  Let the water run over the teeth, gums and tongue but keep the animal’s mouth tilted downwards to avoid water running into the lungs.
–  Then use a wet cloth and gently wipe out the mouth, teeth, gums and roof of the mouth.  Rinse the cloth between each wipe and continue the process for 5-10 minutes.

If your pet settles and does not seem to be showing any further signs of poisoning confine them, preferably inside, or away from toads and watch them closely for any developing symptoms.  These first aid measures are often enough to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe if administered quickly.  If your pet continues to deteriorate or is showing signs of severe poisoning you need to get them to a veterinarian urgently as the situation can quickly become life threatening.

Severe cases of cane toad poisoning will require veterinarian monitoring and often treatment with intravenous fluids, anti-seizure medication and oxygen therapy.  Blood tests may also be required to determine if there has been any organ damage as well as continual heart monitoring.

If talking to your pets and explaining the dangers of playing with cane toads just isn’t sinking in the best way to prevent cane toad poisoning is to keep them locked inside at night and away from the toads.  Also try teaching your dog to stay away from toads.  This can be done by taking them out at night on a lead and teaching them to avoid and ignore the toads by using reward based training methods.

If you think you have a dog that is addicted to the cane toad “high” I suggest reading the Courier Mail article that can be found here.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your pets health and/or cane toad poisoning please speak to your veterinarian.

Until next time,
Bec

Bec

Author: Bec

From a very young age Bec has always had a great love and appreciation for all animals. She has a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing and a Degree in Applied Science Animal Studies, which have been put to good use over the years working in various animal industries. Bec lives on a horse stud and has cared for an endless number of horses throughout all stages of their lives including breeding, foaling, spelling, racing and retirement. Bec is the proud mum of two gorgeous little girls, a beautiful Cocker Spaniel, two chickens and many horses including two Clydesdales, lots of Thoroughbreds and a cheeky little pony.

4 Replies to “Pets and Poisonous Cane Toads

  1. hello there, quick question. my beloved cat Gypsy was outside with my boyfriend and I just 2 nights ago on our back porch as we do regularly every night. my bf was on his way outside and I had stepped inside for just a quick second to grab something, and by a “quick second” I mean I was literally stepped away from just about 30 seconds. well on my way back out, I see Gypsy’s backside slumped over what I came out to discover was a toad laying on its back. I checked out the toad, my cats mouth, and luckily my cat had not yet had the chance to eat any of the toad. Although, I’m almost positive that he had atleast licked it. I quickly proceeded to move the toad away from us and my cat, and realized that the toad was either dying, or hurt, because it was not moving much and I had found it on its back. anyways, I began to worry if the toad was poisonous because my cat had licked the nasty thing! well the next morning, sure enough I found diarrhea all over his litter box and began to worry even more so, from then on throughout the day I refrained from feeding him much, although he did drink alot of water. when I finally did feed him, he threw up so much! and yet, again today! so this is day 2 of him not feeling well and I’m about to take him to a vet. i would just like a some advice before doing so. any thoughts, questions, concerns?? all are very welcomed and appreciated! thank you!

    1. Hi Jade,
      How did you go with Gypsy? Did you take him to the vet? With symptoms like the lethargy, vomiting and drinking a lot I would most certainly get him to the vet asap. It sounds like he may have ingested some toad poison. I really hope the outcome is nothing to serious. Please keep us updated.

      Bec

    2. Hi everyone who lives in Toad areas QLD and northern NSW that has pets should study information about toads.
      I have just moved to QLD within 5 days I discovered toads, I put the nearest 24 hour vet emergency details in my phone.
      Studied all about toads and what symptoms to look for in your pet.
      purchase toad killer from Bunnings its called hopstop its humane and works in about 20 sec, each female cane toad can produce 30,000 tad pole each breeding season
      Everyday I read on facebook of peoples pets dieing from cane toads

      1. Hi Angela,
        Yep cane toads are pretty common in Qld and they certainly cross paths with our pets very often with the potential to be deadly. Check out a recent podcast I did with Dr Glenn on cane toads for some more useful information and tips on what to look out for and what to do if your pet comes in contact with a toad. You can find all episodes of the myPET Podcast here >> https://www.vetnpetdirect.com.au/my-pet-podcast

        Good luck with the toads (or avoiding the toads really)
        🙂 Bec

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